A former Aucklander has prescribed a new way to store and share medical records, saving millions of dollars in time for healthcare providers - and potentially saving lives as well.
When the 75,000th piece of paper flew out of his fax machine, pharmacist Greg Garratt knew there had to be a better way of prescribing medications.
Garratt teamed up with software developer Chris Parmenter and developed Medi-Map, a cloud-based medicine charting application saving millions of dollars in medication wastage and dramatically reducing medication errors.
Based in Christchurch, Medi-Map's software eliminated the reliance on paper-based charts, allowing medications to be ordered, delivered and administered at the touch of a fingertip.
This enabled healthcare providers in facility-based care environments to have a singular view of medications.
"The most important piece of machinery in a pharmacy is the fax machine and we would get 75,000 faxes per year," said chief executive Garratt, who used to own pharmacies in Invercargill before deciding to start up Medi-Map in 2013 and relocate his family and team to Christchurch.
For a pharmacist, deciphering semi-legible handwritten prescriptions and charts from various doctors was somewhat of a headache, resulting in inefficiencies and in worst cases, life-threatening medication errors.
Research in 2012 estimated 150 public hospital patients died each year from medication errors, where a simple mistake such as a misplaced decimal or illegible scrawl on a medication chart could potentially kill.
New Zealand, as with many Western countries, spent a huge portion of public health money on medications, yet a percentage of these pharmaceuticals weren't actually used by the people who needed them.
Garratt estimated around 10 per cent of our nation's pharmaceuticals were wasted every year, at a cost of millions of dollars to the New Zealand taxpayer.
Medi-Map's ward stock control and stock taking software allowed detailed tracking of pharmaceuticals to minimise wastage, with one large district health board reporting 22 per cent decrease in wastage over 12 months since implementing the new software.
"Medi-Map's function allows facilities to manage the medicines with integrated reordering to pharmacy. This allows controls to be introduced around the large quantities of excessive medicines held in facility medicine cupboards," Garratt said.
"Our primary focus is patient centred. We want to deliver better outcomes for patients, and to do this, we need to deliver better outcomes to doctors, nurses and pharmacists."
Garratt's first-hand experience in pharmaceuticals, combined with Parmenter and his teams' experience in software development equipped Garratt with a deep understanding of the issues faced in today's healthcare environments.
"We're a tech company, run by health professionals," Garratt said.
Most of their business was conducted in Australia and across wider New Zealand, Garratt said he made the strategic decision to retain the company's research and development base in Christchurch.
"Auckland would have been too expensive for our staff, transportation was also an issue and the loss of productivity would have been ridiculous."
"We fly trans-Tasman on a regular basis to connect with our Australian client base and Christchurch has much better connectivity than Wellington."